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The 2011/12 season in the Champions League is now over. Chelsea are the winners, but the question is- did they really deserve to be?
People say that once someone has achieved something, it shouldn’t be questioned by others. Nothing personal against anyone, but this is exactly what I’m going to do now; and I‘ll tell you why I think Chelsea didn’t deserve to win the Champions Cup.
Going back to the beginning of this season’s tournament, to the group stage to be exact, we remember that Chelsea were drawn in group E alongside Valencia, Leverkusen and Genk. Not the easiest of groups, but it could have been much worse for sure.
Anyway, still managed by Andre Villas-Boas, The Blues won 3 out of their 6 games, drew 2 and lost just one, thus topping their group and progressing to the knockout stages of the competition.
The problem here, at least for me, is that they didn’t win any of their away games. They recorded draws against Valencia and Genk and a loss in Germany to Leverkusen. Still, we have to give them credit for not conceding any goals at Stamford Bridge in their 3 home matches. To make it even more spectacular, they scored 11 in these games.
So far, so good! Then came the Round of 16, where they faced Napoli from Italy. After they lost the first leg away by 3-1, it seemed as if there is no chance of them going any further.
By that time the second leg was to be played, owner Roman Abramovich had had enough of AVB and had replaced him with Roberto Di Matteo. And somehow Chelsea won at home yet again, 4-1 after extra time, against a surprisingly lacklustre Napoli side.
Then lady luck smiled once again at The Blues, as they were drawn against Benfica in the quarter finals of the Champions League. They won in Portugal 1-0, which is their only away victory in the competition for this season, before winning the return match as well, this time 2-1.
At the semi finals it should have been over for Chelsea, the dream should have ended. But it didn’t! They clashed with Barcelona and surprisingly came out as winners yet again. 1-0 at home in the first game, 2-2 at Nou Camp a week later!
In reality, it should have been a totally different story. Just some statistics from the two games: 36 goal attempts to Barca, 11 to Chelsea; 18 corners for the Spaniards, 2 for the English side; I’m not going to even mention the possession stats over the two legs, because I don’t want to humiliate The Blues.
And, in the end, we all saw what happened during the final. Bayern dominated the game from start till end, had four times as many chances on goal, but somehow still lost.
There you have it, Chelsea’s season in the Champions League summed up in a page. Now we can concentrate on the reasons why they shouldn’t have won the trophy.
Reason №1 is that they didn’t show permanent class and form, they were very unstable in their away games (1 win out of 6), and it was pure luck that saved them on many occasions.
Which leads us to Reason №2, which is the negative tactics employed by Di Matteo, especially in the two matches against Barcelona and in the final against Bayern. If you can’t defeat your opponents by playing attacking and attractive football, you’re just not good enough. I’m so sorry, but defending like beavers (hi Chris Kamara) for three games in a row just isn’t serious. The Blues were completely outclassed during both legs against Barca, as well as during the final. They didn’t control the ball, they didn’t create enough chances, they played in a way that was modern 50 years ago, they played as if they’re a small team from Malta or San Marino trying to achieve a respectable defeat against much stronger opposition.
I know that some would argue that this is the only way to beat Barcelona, but other teams proved that this isn’t the case, and they did it this season as well. But OK, they were afraid of Barcelona, which is completely normal, so even if I could forgive them for playing in such a way, why did they do it against Bayern Munich as well? Sure, the Bavarians are a very solid team, but their style of play is not even close to the one Barcelona employs. So I’m sorry Mr. Di Matteo, I know you’re Italian, but the Catenaccio was modern in the 50’s and 60’s of the last century. Today everyone tries to play what many people like calling ‘sexy football’, and Chelsea’s style was nowhere near sexy.
If this isn’t enough, I have some more arguments against Chelsea. Reason №3 is Didier Drogba, and his actions against Barcelona. Everyone keeps going on about how the Barca and Real Madrid players are divers- well, just watch the game again and see what Drogba was doing. Seriously, I’ve never seen so much diving in my life, not even in a swimming pool…
Reason №4 is the fact, that there is only one first team player to have come through the club’s youth system, and this is John Terry, although he first started at West Ham. All other players were bought from somewhere else at some point. Over the last ten years there has been just another team in the same situation, if not worse- Inter in 2010, as they didn’t have a single player to have come through their youth ranks and who was a leading star for the club at that time.
Reason №5 is the owner himself- Roman Abramovich. The Russian billionaire is the perfect example of how a club shouldn’t be run. Spending huge amounts of money on new players, constantly changing managers, clearly not investing enough in the youth academies…I mean, come on, the most promising player to have come out of the club’s youth ranks recently is Josh McEachran, and that says enough. Di Matteo won the FA Cup and the Champions League for a bit over two months in charge, and he’ll probably be fired. Does such a club with such an owner deserve success? No, I don’t think so.
There you have it- five reasons why Chelsea didn’t deserve to win the Champions League. But no matter what, they did. With a lot of luck on the way, but they managed. It will be interesting to see how things will develop in this club in the near future. Will there be a new manager, and if yes- who? Will they build on this success, which players will leave and which will be bought? There are a lot of question, but all we can do is wait and see what happens.